Brian Williams on Suspension: 'Chalk One Up for Brokaw'

Vanity Fair piece provides details on scandal at NBC News
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2015 4:26 PM CDT
Brian Williams on Suspension: 'Chalk One Up for Brokaw'
Brian Williams, in a 2010 photo.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Vanity's Fair's massive look at NBC News' Brian Williams headache—and the other headaches that have struck the company since Comcast bought NBCUniversal in 2011—has been published. At Politico, Dylan Byers sums up "The Inside Story of the Civil War For the Soul of NBC News," written by Bryan Burrough, as short on new insights but long on "damning quotes"; pretty much all of them are from unnamed sources. The buzziest in regards to Williams:

  • How Williams explained—or didn't—his fabrications internally, via an "NBC insider": "He couldn't say the words 'I lied.' We could not force his mouth to form the words 'I lied.' He couldn't explain what had happened. [He said,] 'Did something happen to [my] head? Maybe I had a brain tumor, or something in my head?'"

  • On Williams' interests, a point that supposedly rankled Tim Russert, from "a person who knew both men well": "What always bothered Tim was Brian’s lack of interest in things that mattered most, that were front and center, like politics and world events. Brian has very little interest in politics. It’s not in his blood. What Brian cares about is logistics, the weather, and planes and trains and helicopters." (Another former NBC correspondent paints Williams as "obsessed with whether Mitt Romney wore the Mormon underwear.")
  • On how Tom Brokaw fits in, from "a former NBC executive": "I always felt (Williams) needed to jack up his stories because he was trying so hard to overcome his insecurities. And he had to follow Tom, which brought its own set of insecurities. He likes to sort of tell these grandiose tales. But, can I tell you, in all the years we worked together, it never rose to the point where we said, 'Oh, there he goes again.' I just saw it as one of the quirks of his personality." Fast-forward to Williams' suspension, and a friend says, "I talked to Brian about this, and I’ll never forget what he said at the end. He said, 'Chalk one up for Brokaw.'"
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that ABC World News Tonight took the No. 1 slot for the first time since September 2009, edging out NBC Nightly News by 84,000 viewers. The former has David Muir at the helm, the latter has Lester Holt at the anchor desk ... which is possibly a good segue into Frank Rich's latest piece for New York magazine: "A Dumb Job; How is it possible that the inane institution of the anchorman has endured for more than 60 years?" Read it here, or head to Vanity Fair for more damning quotes. (More Brian Williams stories.)

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